The days after Christmas are always a little bit of a let down. There is so much excitement and build up to the actual event – and once its over its over. Done. No more until next year. The Christmas music stops on the radio. The Christmas movies stop on TV. I’m always left with a bit of an empty feeling afterword. Call it a Christmas Depression if you will.
Overall I have no room to complain. We had a very good holiday. It all started on Christmas Eve morning when I went to look up my egg casserole recipe on the Ipad and saw that I had 31 work emails. Hmmm I thought and absent-mindedly clicked the email icon. I was met with an email from an agent turning in the last of his grain claims. ON THE LAST DAY POSSIBLE – CHRISTMAS EVE. I wasted two hours trying to open these claims online (because thanks to govt rules if they aren’t turned in by the deadline they aren’t paid). The internet at home was painfully slow on said morning. I finally ended up emailing them to the claims supervisors for the respective companies and saying a little prayer that would suffice. Since I wasted so much time on this I wasn’t able to get the frosting made for the Christmas cookies I was going to frost with the kids. My kids are little enough they don’t care one lick whether the cookies get frosted or not. But I cared. A LOT.
This made me crabby which in turn made the kids crabby. It was almost nap time and there was a huge battle getting the oldest to go down for a nap. You can always tell when she needs a nap the most by how much she complains about not needing one. Once the kids were down I finally went to look up the recipe for my egg casserole again. I opened the fridge to get out the sausage I swore was there the day before to find that there was no sausage thawed for the casserole. I had hit my limit. I started to cry over the damn sausage. I wailed to my husband “Why can’t anything go the way it is supposed to today”. His solution was to defrost a pack of sausage. Which was a decent solution. But I was in a mood and informed him I didn’t WANT to defrost the sausage because defrosting meat was a waste of time. I threw a pack of frozen sausage in the sink and decided to worry about it later that night after we got home from Christmas Eve with the in-laws.
The kids ended up taking decently long naps. They slept so long that it gave my pack of frozen sausage time to thaw and I was able to start on the casserole while they were still sleeping. Once I got into the thick of it and was past the point of stopping they of course woke up and wanted to go to Grandma and grandpa’s ASAP. Jake worked on getting them ready and the van packed up while I finished the casserole. We drove off into the sunset to Christmas Eve at my in-laws. In our haste we forgot Pull-Ups and wipes. We scrounged around the van and came up with two and a little pack of wipes. Problem solved.
Christmas Eve dinner and gift giving was nice but everyone seemed very tired, and almost drained. We came home, did chores, put pajamas on the girls, the girls spilled juice boxes all over their pajamas and our bed, we changed pajamas, changed the sheets on the bed, threw a towel over the spot that was still wet, and made everyone go to bed. We forgot to set out milk and cookies. And again, this seemed to matter more to me than anyone else.
The next day Jake and I got up extra early to get chores done, get stuff together for the afternoon festivities at my mom and dads house, and basically just be ready to go once the girls got up. Lily got up at five after six, and she and Jake proceeded to go wake Grace up while I tried to make sandwiches at lightning speed for the afternoon christmas at my mom and dads. The girls were very excited to get their bikes and open the first present. After that all they wanted to do was play with the present they opened and ignore the other boxes. Jake coaxed them to keep opening. And each opened present brought more and more demands for us to hurry up and open the boxes and put the toys together so they could play with them. We spent most of our morning putting together toys rather than enjoying the time with the kids and each other.
We put the kids down for early naps, and when they woke up we fed them a quick lunch, and left to go to my mom and dads house. The plan was to meet there around one. We got there and unpacked the van. My mom announced she was leaving to go pick up my nephews from Christmas with their mom. We sat and waited. About forty minutes later my nephews arrived. They had gotten a new puppy for Christmas, and my brother had brought his German Shepard over because he doesn’t like to leave him alone on Christmas. His dog was bothering the puppy so he and his wife left to take the dog back home. We sat and waited about forty minutes. Meanwhile, after my mom had been back from getting the boys, she immediately grabbed my dad and left to get my Grandma and Grandpa from the nursing home and bring them over to open gifts too. We sat and waited. For almost two hours we were by ourselves, sitting at my folks’ house watching basketball and listening to my nephews argue and continually ask when we were going to open presents again.
Finally my brother and his wife resurfaced and shortly thereafter my parents came home with my Grandparents in tow. My Grandpa has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, and my Grandma has severe dementia. Both have been failing in health recently and not doing very well. They are very unstable on their feet. It’s a sad situation. My Grandpa informed my parents he “didn’t want any of this shit” every time my mom tried to give him a present to open. My Grandma ignored her pile of presents. While my mom tried to get them to acknowledge their gifts my nephews and the girls had demolished their pile of presents and no one even knew who got what. The kids dispersed into the other room while my parents fought over trying to get my grandparents to acknowledge their presents.
It went something like this:
My mom to my grandparents: Look at this isn’t it pretty, its nice and warm and so soft
My grandparents: Silent stares
My grandpa: I want to go back.
My dad: Leave them alone they aren’t paying any attention to you
My mom: See line one above and repeat sequence.
I went and hid in the kitchen away from the infighting. The food everyone had brought was scattered haphazardly around the kitchen with little thought into what should go where. I was so depressed. All I could think of were Christmas’ like those in my past, where the whole family was together and we talked and played games, we watched Christmas movies on TV, not basketball, the grandkids all played with each other. This year I hadn’t even spoken to my parents yet because they basically weren’t there. With their running around they hadn’t been home, and then with my grandparents there my dad was angry my mom insisted on bringing them over and my mom was too riddled with guilt to even focus on anyone but them. It would have been so much better if we had just all loaded up and gone to visit them at the nursing home. But my mom is always insistent on bringing them to the house. They lasted a whole hour before my grandpa’s insistence on being taken back to the nursing home won out and they left to take them back. By the time they got back they were both mentally exhausted and crashed on the couch. We stayed another hour or so and then packed up and came home.
On the way home the Christmas Depression hit me. It hit me that everyone is getting older. It hit me that Christmas is what you make of it, and you shouldn’t rely on others to make it what you want it to be. Both my girls said they had a great Christmas. They showered Jake and I with hugs and thanks and how much they loved their gifts and us and Christmas. I realized while I was feeling sorry for myself and thinking how Christmas sucked for everyone, that they were all having a jolly good time without me. I decided to hug my babies, assured them I had a great Christmas too, and resolved to lower my expectations for the year’s holiday celebrations to come. Because when you put too much pressure on the holiday traditions, you just might be disappointed.